Wow, I laid an egg. Last night was my turn to set up a
dinner for our northern New Jersey wine group. I had combed the local
restaurant guides and selected a place that had an impressive media file.
is not only the name of Michael Carrino’s highly anticipated new restaurant;
it is his way of life. Raised in the predominantly Italian culture in
Nutley, New Jersey, Carrino’s passion for cooking began in a home where food
was the center of every social occasion. Inspired by his maternal
grandfather and his Italian heritage, Carrino began experimenting in the
kitchen as a young boy."
The menu was interesting to
me and added a night of French wine-consuming to increase my pinot noir data
Passed Hors d’oeuvres
Smoked Salmon crepe
with crème fraîche and caviar
Caramelized leek and onion tart with gruyere
First Course Choice of
Braised Rabbit Ravioli with chanterelle mushrooms and
a light Pernod cream
Baby arugula tossed in an aged sherry vinaigrette
with julienne of tomato, red onion and shaved Smithfield country ham
with chipped Granna Padano cheese
Choice of Entrée
Roulade of Long Island Duckling with sautéed spinach
and confit over braised greens
Black currant demi glace or Pan Seared Halibut over
forbidden black risotto, shallot fondue and sauce beurre rouge or
Grilled Double Lamb Chop with stone ground mustard
rub, baby vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes
Tart Fine - sweet apples baked golden brown in French
pastry topped with vanilla glace
Torte - Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ganache Torte
with crème anglaise and chantilly cream
So where do I start? I start with the upfront statement that the night was so
disappointing that I failed to get the list of wines we consumed. I submit the
offerings in picture form, but cannot replicate the list.
A nice mix of rose, white and red lined the table so I drank. The appetizers
were OK, very heavy towards the salmon stuffed mini crepes and light on the
I had the braised rabbit ravioli, yes singular, in the biggest of plates with
too little Pernod for any distinctive flavor. At this point I was switching
between white and red just to drown my nervous stomach as my tablemates tried to
figure if they liked the first course or not.
Main course for me was the lamb chops, the fattiest, grisliest chops I have had
in quite some time. As I pre-paid for 21 and 16 showed, they placed the extra
meals on the table. I could bring five dinners home. I tried the duck, but
once I saw Keith push his plate away, I thought twice before actually ingesting
it. I heard the halibut was good. For me this was a major disappointment and
I apologize to those new members. I do not want them to feel all our events
have that bad of a price/quality ratio. I ask you give me one more opportunity
to set something up.
Thank God, Joann and Caroline livened up the night with braised conversation and
lively comment. My crème brulee was good, but no coffee or tea, yes, no coffee
or tea. Christ on a cracker; I guess I am not cut out for fine French
So I consumed but didn’t record and drove home kicking myself for doing such a
crappy job of making this a different kind of night. I need to recover my
reputation as an event planner, wine friend and foodie. I went 0-3 last night.
September 23, 2007
Tonight was the kickoff dinner for the 2007-2008 Essex
County Wine Society. Try getting out of the house by saying you are going to
The Strip House for a wine dinner. Not the name to get a free pass. Be that as
it may, as this being my first official dinner, I believe they wanted me to feel
comfortable. The best way to do that is to serve wines that suit my style.
Check this out, we started the first course with a buttery rich, heavily oaked
chardonnay from California. The first course of corn and crab chowder came with
a 2005 Beringer Private reserve Chardonnay whose toffee, toasted caramel and
vanilla ran circles around the fruit. So far I was one for one. But the night
got better when the filet mignon was saddled with a 1998 Mas Ingeus 112. That’s
a big ass Priorat, friends, that I would invite to any dinner or night of TV.
Yes, a firm wine with the guts to stand next to a seasoned, peppery grilled cut
Doing the Euro thing, they tried to piss in my oatmeal with
a salad after my beef. The sherry vinaigrette dressing was mellow but still
challenged the 1997 Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage. That’s a syrah, Stan, a northern
Rhone syrah. I went light on the salad and leaned heavily towards the wine for
this course. We rounded out the night with a 1988 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes
that was the best friend of our Peach Melba crepes.
The venue was great as we byob’d but I heard the wine list
at this place is obscenely expensive. Several of the people at my table are in
the wine trade and they mentioned the mark ups here are steep. I didn’t get a
chance to look over the list, but I am not looking to impress myself with a $90
bill for an $18 bottle of red.
We start this year off with a white burgundy tasting and I
look forward to this one. I understand there is a Drouhin on the list and I
tried to invite Laurent to join me as a mystery guest to help me with the
nuances of white Burgundies. One of these days, yes one of these days…..
September 22, 2007
Just a quick note on some local New Jersey wine news, even
though there is another web site claiming this distinction. Last Wednesday the
NJ Devils hockey team held an invitation-only wine tasting at the soon to open
restaurant in their new arena. Yes, Newark, NJ is now the proud home of the NJ
Devils, a brand spanking new arena with first class restaurant and the wines of
Tony Soprano’s shrink. Lorraine Bracco’s wines were featured at the exclusive
party as Mayor Corey Booker and his parents discussed wine with the proud wine
proprietor. Lending his support was actor Vincent Curatola - Johnny “Sack”
Sacramoni. You might remember Johnny’s last gig as the Member’s Only
jacket-wearing mystery man in a Hillary Clinton ad. Maybe the news that didn’t
make it to the media is that Dr. Melfi is moving her offices from the upscale
Montclair area to a renovated brownstone near Military Park for a spin-off
show. Her first client might just be Devil’s owner Jeff Vanderbeek after the
first year attendance numbers come in lower than the Continental Arena numbers.
I’m going out on a limb here, but check the attendance numbers this February,
when the wind chill is -10 and the team is playing in front of 9,000. My
suggestion is a couch with the Devil’s logo and a second with the Mayoral
emblem. I wish them well but the move is unfortunately NOT going to live up to
expectations. Has anyone checked the crime statistics for Newark? That’s what
I want to do, be leaving the arena at 11:45 pm for a six-block walk to the train
station, or my car. Report of first mugging or robbery will lead to diminish
attendance. The arena is not like Madison Square Garden where the trains are
directly below the venue. We are talking about a half-mile walk, or rip-off cab
ride. Remember, you heard it here first gang.
September 17. 2007
OK, I want in. I want to know who the hell in the
Discovery channel production staff approves these stupid “in search of” shows?
I was watching Beyond Invention (wow that sounds geeky) and the title of the
episode was Crypto Zoology. They spent an hour looking for some sea monster in
British Columbia and some Tasmanian tiger in Australia. Big surprise, they
never found them, just showed footage of side scan sonar or night pictures of
other animals, but NO elusive monsters. Hey Discovery Channel, I heard there is
a half man / half grape vine roaming the area of Howell Mountain. I need a
$150,000 budget and a crew of twelve to see if I can bring back evidence. Part
of the discovery process is drinking from every winery in the area to see if we
can discern the human influence on the grape vine. I will even make a scientist
test the DNA of every grape I drink. Hell, we can even drag the wooded areas
with side scan sonar, echolocation and IR detection equipment. I have heard
stories for years of the half man / half grape vine and damn it, someone has to
save those people on Howell Mountain.
I got one that will be even less expensive for me not to
find, the Jersey Devil. Yes, that four foot high, crazed beast that roams the
Pinelands in southern NJ. He must exist, we named our hockey team after him. I
got one very easy to find, I heard there is a stick figure that drinks wine and
roams the wine cellars of people in northern NJ. I’m sure with a few night
vision cameras and baiting a few cellars with open bottles of 1982 Chateau
Latour or Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, he might just be photographed at the bait.
How can someone make a show knowing they will not find what they are looking
for? Two clues, a monster is not going to exist alone so there would eventually
be many, look at the rabbit for proof. Also, they would eventually die and
someone would finally stumble upon the carcass as proof. Thank God I was
drinking during that show, it made me believe they could actually find
something. Alcohol will do that to you.
Remember, drink what you like and keep your thumb out of my
2005 Bodegas Bocopa Conde de Alicante Monastrell Barrica
Especial $ (7.99) I give this one a bit more for the fact it was so cheap and wasn’t bad.
Not much finish but nice start with the blackberry and plum. A fitting wine for
a show that was a foregone conclusion.
September 16, 2007
Think your job is tough? Try being a liquor salesman
in Baghdad. It seems that in 1993, Saddam put the hammer down on public
drinking. The enjoyment of food, drink and watching scantily clad women belly
dance became a punishable offense. Today, there are only two areas in Iraq that
can sell alcohol. It is a double-edged sword. The storeowners have clients, as
a matter of fact with the holiday of Ramadan coming; patrons are buying alcohol
by the case instead of the bottle. Those deploring this vice send their message
by bombing the stores. Undeterred, the alcoholic favored son is Arak, an anise
or date-based distilled spirit. Arak is referred to as the milk of lions as
this potent clear spirit turns milky white when water or ice are added. It is
believed to have been developed in the 10th century by an Arab
After the fall of Saddam, alcohol sales skyrocketed as
imported beer and whiskey flowed freely. But today, the struggle of ideology
creates a dangerous setting for those wanting to enjoy the national drink, those
trying to make a living selling the national beverage and those wanting to void
the country of it. Arak was not imparted by the west but many see it as leading
to the decay of their society. Here we would legislate the use and control it,
there they simply blow it up. That alone speaks volumes. There are customers,
plenty of people wishing to enjoy a sip of Arak prior to dining with family or
friends, but their personal liberties are being attacked in the deadliest of
People, can’t we sit down at a table with a bottle of Arak
and settle things in Iraq so we can stop the attack. I offer diplomacy by the
Wino Wilson suggested I start his catch phrase at the end
of my entries so when he finally podcasts, everyone will know its his.
drink what you like and keep your thumb out of my punt… WW
September 15, 2007
How do you cure a hangover? Lunch with Wino John.
That will wake you up, or at least get you drinking again. As you know, with WJ
the bigger, bolder cabs get him excited. So I picked the pinotest pinot for
lunch. This pinot was so pinot it was pinot meunier, the Schemp of the pinots.
(Look up the history of the three stooges, then laugh). This grape is usually a
bit player on the champagne/sparkling wine stage. Wanting to mix things up, I
found a bottle of 100% pinot meunier and opened it before he had a chance to
stage a protest. A much chickier chick wine than pinot noir, but I can see why
it can play a supporting role. I wouldn’t spend the money a second time, but I
was glad to have had the experience. Not many bottles of pinot meunier around
in the stores I shop so I can confidently tell St. Peter, “Done it” when I get
to the Pearly Gates and he asks me if I every had pinot meunier.
2000 Domaine Chandon Pinot
Meunier$$ (25.00) Too pricey for this wine, this one was already heading south. Red fruit
of strawberry and raspberry flavors with a touch of spice.
September 14, 2007
Darkness greeted me this morning as I hopped into the
Flintstone mobile and headed for Long Island for an early appointment. As I
waited at the GWB toll plaza with a thumping head, blood shot eyes and
shakes-the-clown grip on the steering wheel, a thought pulsed in and out of my
head. Was this the hangover or was I still drunk and tired for the few hours of
sleep? I read a great deal on hangovers and proposed cures, but I never quite
figured out when the night’s drunk is officially surrendered to the morning’s
hangover. I am sure there is some metabolic structure to the technical cross
over, but I have never understood the signs. I go to bed drunk and wake up
assigning everything to the hangover. I judge too harshly or too prematurely.
Perhaps the hangover comes at 11am if I get home at 2am and only have three and
a half hours sleep. I guess it really doesn’t matter. What it comes down to is
that having a fun night at Wino Odd Job’s bar leads to a world of hurt in the
Last night, a small group of us were treated to the
culinary flare of soon-to-be Wino Brian. I say soon-to-be as his drink of
choice for WOJ's karaoke was Bud Lite. Bud Lite I say… I daftly say the food
was amazing, because that is what I hear the foodies on TV say when they try to
bring you into their world. The salad, shrimp, filet mignon could not aptly be
defined by me, but suffice it to say my taste buds are still at full attention.
Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed two bottles of wine
from my cellar as a token of appreciation. The first warm up wine, somewhat
embarrassed me as I offered up a rosé.
Yes, I had a rosé in my cellar. It was a
bottle of Oriel Femme Fatal the crisp Bordeaux rosé
that is as manly as rosé comes. I figured
it would be good for sitting around the deck, in the waning summer weather. I
guess Wino Odd Job had enough of my wine daftness and brought out a beautiful
bottle of 2001 Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner. Bottle one
quickly turned into a second bottle of Mas La Plana. This elegant cab was the
seductive partner of the filet mignon showing mint and eucalyptus early in the
glass and settling down to a black fruit, coffee and tobacco wine with a kiss of
anise on the finish. Killer food and killer wine lead to my over indulgence and
my killer shakes at 6:30 this morning as I bounded eastward for the sand bar
separating the Long Island Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. I can only tell you
in very undescriptive terms, the wine was amazing. Why isn’t there a TV food or
wine show that speaks honestly about what they try? I don’t ever remember
Andrea Immer once saying to the winemaker, your wine tastes like the bottom of
my shoe. No every wine she tasted was, “amazing”.
For me the food and wine and company were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
No really, not the TV fake amazing, more like the "homie" amazin'. See by
leaving the “g” off the word it gives it an entirely new meaning of raw power
and truthiness. Word to your wizzile.
September 11, 2007
Why aren’t all the major news stations covering the
memorial service today?
A Day Our Lives Changed.
Our Nation Needs to Remain Vigilant.
Take Time to Pay Respects.
September 9, 2007
How stupid is Senator Chuck Schummer? I have not been a
fan of his since his speech to the special graduation class of firefighters in
late September in 2001 when he tried to be a statesman. His speech paled in
comparison to Mayor Rudy’s comforting words. I remember watching the event on
TV and he actually paused for applause lines in a speech to grieving families
and uncertain new cadets. He has said some crazy things between then and now
but in this week's speech he said that violence reduction in the areas of Iraq
where we have additional troops has nothing to do with the hard work of those
troops. Everyone has the right to disagree with the war and the troops being
there, but if he takes the time to simply listen to the words that came from his
mouth, his brilliant lawyer mind would have a hard time agreeing with his own
logic. Chuck, don’t make it worse, don’t dig a deeper hole by trying to say you
were taken out of context or you disagree with your own speech. Simply do the
right thing and say you were on cold medicine and had hay fever and couldn’t
think right. You meant to say that the rest of Iraq is in shambles but the
places where our troop presence has increased and violence has decreased is a
direct result of the professionalism and hard work of the young men and women
that wear our uniform and volunteer to serve. I ask the simple question, does
this man reflect the brainpower of every New Yorker? Is this what you elected
to represent your common sense approach to reality? I submit to you the reasons
for term limits.
September 8, 2007
I receive a lot of strange calls and emails, but last
Wednesday I got one I never thought I would have to field. I was chastised for
parental control issues. Well, it’s not exactly as I might have expressed. One
would think our bawdy site should have parental controls. I blush after reading
what I write, but a teenager should not be on our page. Unfortunately, the call
came from my mom and she thought I should put a parental control on my page so
my parents can’t read it. Thinking about it, knowing my mom reads what I write
causes me to temper my language. You could image what it would be like if she
didn’t read it. It seems that our video clips created the need to upgrade the
software on their computer. As of now, I can say yes we have parental controls
on our site. Technology being what it is, I am sure they can download a plug in
and bam, all my drunken ramblings will be viewable again. It does raise the
question of restrictions and age appropriateness of content and should we set
and upper and lower limit on our site.
I say, the USA was born with the right of a free press. So
reader beware, mom or not, I’m writing what I will. It does make for strained
discussions at Christmas dinner when I have to explain that a thumb up the punt
is not as dirty as it sounds. Funny but not dirty. So parental control
free, I look forward to drinking and writing about it. Just one request, Mom,
please stop sending me the pictures of you at the beach in the WinoStuff thong.
2005 J Pinot Noir Russian River Valley$$ (29.00) This one starts out tight and needs air time, Dr. J
airtime. Once the pinot loosens up, it brings raspberry and red cherry flavors
with a spice and vanilla on the back-end.
September 4, 2007
Editor's note: Bob's been at
it again. He's discovered how to create a video podcast. Now he's
producing video clips and consuming bandwidth like there's no tomorrow.
I'll get an RSS feed going soon so you'll immediately know when The Bob has
gotten drunk and whipped out the video camera. Here's the latest...
September 2, 2007
How do you come back to reality after a Jackie the Jokeman
show? You take the Mrs. to a very special dinner. No, not some overpriced
place in the city. You accept an invite to Wino Odd Job’s home and enjoy the
meal beyond what I could afford. Last night Wino OJ opened his ultra modern
cooking facility and entertained us with a food storm. We were going to head to
a local BYOB, but instead he offered to cook, so I offered to bring the wine. I
had three in the sack and wanted the main one to be fitting of his culinary
talent and wine preference. I started with thunder from down under, and lucked
out when WOJ served up grilled chorizo sausage wrapped by cilantro shrimp. The
spice of the sausage, the flavor of the cilantro and the seasoning of the bar-b,
played well with Justice George’s ’05 Guilty. Yes Wino Paul, Wino Odd Job just
upped the ante with the chorizo and no he will not give me the recipe. He took
grilled cilantro shrimp to "11". Since I reviewed the Guilty as a Wino Bob
favorite, please refer to earlier entry.
The salad course had a tomato and mozzarella stack
surrounded by fig, almonds, olives and caper berries. I must admit, I did not
know what a caper berry was until last night, but if I ever see one again, I got
it covered. I opened the Argentinean blend. The variety of flavors on the salad
plate made a blend the better choice.
For the main course, I brought along a super Tuscan as the
WOJs like Italian reds. Though the wine typically would not have been served
with the grilled ahi tuna steaks, at that point we were in it for the wine and
not so much the pairing. Mike decanted it as soon as we arrived so by dinner;
we were able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the Tuscan rebel who dared to
bring cabernet into the local grape mix. I was worried as this bottle has been
in my cellar for several years. With my cellar, it’s sometimes hit or miss on
long-term storage. Fortunately, this one hit and we were able to see the grace
of this wine shine through. It was almost the perfect way to end the night.
You see, in the Wino Odd Job world, the perfect way to end the night is sitting
at his bar, enjoying a night cap and singing to one of the over 5000 songs in
his cd jukebox. It won’t be complete until Teen Spirit hit the speakers and the
obnoxiously drunk and wailing Wino Bob had his turn adding new food lyrics to
the song. Fortunately the bar is set in such a private location, only one black
bear was within earshot of my vocal assault on a perfectly good song.
Patriota Bonarda-Malbec$ (24.99) A vibrant blend of bonardo (charbono)
which delivers plum and black pepper while the malbec puts a backbone of black
fruit and stiff tannins. A compliment to the sweet fig, salty capers, cheese
1998 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia$$$$$ (137.00) Subtle and elegant wild berries with black truffle, herb and tobacco on
the mid palate ending with a long sexy finish of chocolate.
September 1, 2007
What do you get when you go to a show by a 59-year-old
comic who has been doing the same material for 39 years in a venue that seats
50? No, that’s what I thought also. No, you get a 2-hour laugh feast.
This entry will not be about wine. Rather, it is about just how much
energy and freshness The Jokeman still brings after all these years of the same
basic act. Hell, I have seen him numerous times but he manages to add something
different to the delivery or the lead in. Uncle Vinnie’s is an intimate setting
so there is no hiding and afterwards you are up close and personal with the
act. Jackie’s graciousness and zest for his profession makes every picture he
poses for like it’s the first one all day. Jackie The Jokeman is still a funny
dude. If you get the chance, go see him.
And I apologize for the hex I put on you before I started
the drive to Point Pleasant. Surprisingly, the traffic was not the
nightmare I anticipated. In fact, I got there early enough to walk from town to
the boardwalk and soak in the smells, sights and sounds of summer in NJ. The
immediate smells of funnel cake, sausage and pepper sandwiches and pizza greet
you a block away. The sound of crying kids, and spinning carnie wheels pierce
the air. But there is nothing better than seeing the ocean from a bar stool at
the Tiki Bar. Please don’t confuse it with Tiki Barber, its namesake. Rumor
has it he was conceived after a night of Pt Pleasant Slammers and clams on a
half shell. Just think, he could have been named Jenkinsens Barber if his folks
had been two spots north on the boardwalk.
August 31, 2007
I hate when I read other sites and they start off with
something lame like, "Wow I can’t believe this much time passed since my last
entry..." In the spirit of lameness, I can’t believe….
Seems like the world is spinning faster than 1000 miles an
hour. I wish I had a car that drove 1000 miles an hour and I could drive to
Napa for lunch and back on the same day. I live far enough west that I wouldn’t
have to contend with any of the damn bridges.
Though I haven’t been drinking (anything I haven’t
posted before which in Wino Bob land is like being on the wagon). I
have been trying to find a new exciting freshness for the site. In the next
week, WinoStuff.com will be gaining a new respect, which is great since we don’t
get any now. The new feature, once the technical aspects are finished, will
thrill and amuse, so stay tuned, folks, stay tuned. The unveiling is right
around the corner.
Here is a sneak preview...
The Essex County Wine Society just sent me the upcoming
tasting schedule. They are all about pinot this year; I guess I am having an
impact before my check clears. We have a burgundy, a vintage burgundy and a
white burgundy tasting slated. The ECWS concurs that this is the year of the
pinot. I wonder if they are contemplating a pinotfest?
Hey, stay safe this weekend. I am off to see Jackie
the Jokeman Martling. Unfortunately he is playing in Pt. Pleasant on the Friday
night starting the Labor Day weekend. Way to go, Jokeman, I have to sit in 4.5
hours of traffic to see your recycled jokes. Why not just do it at the Asbury
park tollbooth? The ride home wont be bad, but getting there will be a bitch.
If it wasn’t for the fact that he announced that I would be in the audience, I
might skip it. OK, Jokeman, be funny.
The Burger King
The Burgundy King
Lest anyone be confused by my post the other day, I wanted
to make sure you don’t go into the drive thru at BK and ask for a glass of
LaForte. And please don’t ask this guy to hold the pickle or this might happen
August 25, 2007
Sorry. I don’t often apologize, let alone start a very
important page of mine with that word. I must, I am sorry. Several weeks back
my friend and favorite wine wonder from down under, Justice George was kind
enough to ring me up (I’m trying to speak his language). He was telling me
about his 05 release of Guilty. I made him a promise that I would pick some up
and let him know what I thought. Then work, and family and my detox got in the
way. Yesterday, I got an email from the good judge asking where my review was.
Crap, I pissed off a judge. Even though he is 4500 miles away, I don’t know how
long that arm of the law is. So I headed to Church Street and grabbed three
bottles of Guilty from the shelves of Amanti Vino.
Fittingly, I had dinner plans with Shiraz Head himself,
Wino Stan. He had made a reservation at Luigi’s in Newark. Yes folks, the
second murder capitol of NJ, the city that never sleeps cause they are
responding to 911 calls. The restaurant is small and most of the chairs face
the door. Enough said if you know what I mean. The lobster ravioli was killer
and the Guilty handled the pink sauce like a charm. The beauty of this wine
showed itself with my veal Luigi. This dish of veal, sun dried tomatoes,
mushrooms and artichokes gave off an aroma that had me drooling. But Wino Stan
said it best, the Guilty didn’t back down and kept giving. The first bottle
showed well enough for us to head back for cigars and espresso and more Guilty.
The true test to a ballsy wine is how it rates when you puff a stogie. Let me
tell the Wine Goddess this simple statement, the 05 Guilty is not weak, is not
watery and will slap you in the face with its bold dark fruit and wood. At one
point after dinner I thought the wine had enough wood that I could use it as a
Magazine articles have been written that wine makers craft
to Robert Parker's palate, but at the risk of sounding pompous, I think the good
Judge crafted this one to my personal liking. Just so I am not blowing smoke up
your ass (I know for some of you that is a good thing), grab a bottle and judge
Yes, the usually big-berried George made the 05 from tinier
berries with more concentrated fruit and a bit of berry envy. Remember George,
its not the size of your berries, it’s the power of your fruit and this one
delivers. Tiny berries seem to fit you. So join me in toasting George’s tiny
berries as they exceeded expectations. If you ever meet George in person, ask
him about his 05 tiny berries. I am sure he will be glad to tell you all
about them and the big bold wine they make. By George, I think you have this
one nailed, at least for this lover of meaty, chewy bold Shiraz. Piss off
Barossa; Justice George has just delivered the verdict with a powerhouse red for
2005 Shinas Estates Guilty$ (19.99) Look again at the price. Yeah, you. For under twenty dollars
you can enjoy a slice of Bacchanalian pleasure. Bold black fruit with vivid
images of staves, a touch of mint and tannins that need to be roped in at first
August 24, 2007
Mother of my Lord Jesus, a guy takes a few days for a
metro-sexual lymphatic detox mud treatment and spends the next ten days trying
to catch up. Add to it the over-reactive port authority bridge crew that now is
checking every known bridge in the tri state area so no one falls into the east
river. You end up not writing about a great wine night, several days ago. I
need to figure out how I can work less, drink more and live like Wino Wally.
Yes, we were treated to a rare appearance at the WinoStuff corporate
restructuring meeting this past week by WW. By restructuring, I mean moving my
sober cells to the drunken side of my brain. My contribution was a
1998 P. Jaboulet-Aine Hermitage La
Chappelle that I purchased as my Christmas
gift from my parents. Saved them a trip and I got what I wanted. Only the best
for the two chuckleheads that form the WinoStuff conglomerate. Wino John
brought gifts of California cab and Brunello but at the point I exited the
dinner, I had little desire to find a pencil. Maybe desire is not the right
word; call it little hand eye coordination.
As I saddled up the stagecoach,
I got one of those new type messages that appear on your phone. @ Bakus w/burg
king, stop in.
Yes, Winos and Winettes, finally
I would share some wine with one of my favorite heroes, the over inflated
plastic Burger King head that appears on TV commercials in NFL games. But what
in the hell is he doing at Bakus, I mean Bacchus? To my disappointment, it
wasn’t the Burger King; it was the Burgundy King, Laurent Drouhin. He was there
with Big Bob for a very important dinner that I must have been left off the
invite list. Fortunately, I crashed the place just before The Burg King and Big
Bob headed north and I shared a brewski with Laurent and about the fact that he
hasn’t invited me up to his house or on his yacht since he has moved to the
USA. I said he hasn’t invited me on his yacht, or to dinner at his palatial
estate. Hello, phone ready and waiting, email working, text messaging working….
World-class boater here, wine lover, pinot noir- grape of the year decider.
That’s right, I’m the decider. BTW, Laurent, you can also find my myspace page
that has my email.
1998 P. Jaboulet-Aine Hermitage La Chappelle$$$ (85.00) WARNING- Do not drink this vintage, send
it immediately to WinoStuff for destruction. This vintage is on the down side,
color is changing, fruit is fading. Only for Rhone Head consumption at this
August 18, 2007
Here’s a gem I found the other day while having a very
important business lunch with Wino John. Though WJ’s palate is as hard as a
turtle shell from all the California cabs, he still has a small section
available for his Chianti jones. The nuanced sangiovese grape, when crafted
properly, brings a smile to his face. This one came from a master craftsman and
in so doing, got positive head nods from Wino John. The 26 generations of
Antinoris producing Tuscan wines would lead me to believe they know what they
are doing. This rather inexpensive wine for what Tuscany offers, delivers an
impressive wine. Maybe it was the cabernet sauvignon doping that places this
into my comfort zone. This will be on my must buy list for the day I become
Wino Wally wealthy and can afford a large stock of nice wine for my cellar. For
now, it will be the plonk I can afford.
2001 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Reserva $$ (33.00) This wine bursts with dark cherry fruit and a spice undertone. I
detected a bit of tobacco on the nose but not sure if it was the wine or the
atmosphere at JR tobacco. Upscale for pasta, but a nice sidecar for veal
August 16, 2007
Just got back on the red-eye from the Land of Enchantment.
Taos offered the most relaxing environment at the El Monte Sagrado Resort. The
place must be electric in late fall with snowcap on the mountains and a snap in
the air. We dined at De La Tierra, their
award-winning restaurant. The menu is limited but eclectic and I found the Elk
Chop and Bison Sausage a unique culinary experience. The wine by the glass
selection was limited so I ordered the 2004 Archetype Shiraz Barossa as
it goes well with game. The $13.99 bottle of wine was offered up at $10.00 a
glass, which made it the most reasonable one on the list. The wine held up well
with its mocha and smoke flavors running over the red raspberry and dark cherry
fruit. It sure beat the two local wines I had earlier in the week.
One note, hold off for another
three months before booking a room at the El Monte. They are still under
construction and the lobby is not ready. The construction crew works from 9-5
so sleeping in is limited if you are on the expansion side of the property.
This place is an oasis in the two stop light town with a staff ready to make
sure you have everything you need for a relaxing stay. Note to ass kickers:
I bypassed the spa at this place and just hung out and soaked in the clean
mountain air. Nice place to remove yourself from the rat race.
August 12, 2007
Every once in a while, I venture off to find something new
and different. Some might call it a 12-step program, others call it vacation.
I did something that growing up in Bloomfield NJ would have lead to an
ass-whooping behind North Junior High School. I checked into a spa resort
tucked in the foothills of Santa Fe and spent 2 hours in a..., well..., ah..., a
“treatment”. It was described as a lymphatic detoxification therapy to purge
the 30 years of toxin ingestion. It was a clay-infused herb mixture applied to
the lymph rich regions of my stickly figure. It burst with aromas of sage and
seaweed and cooked on me for a half hour. I don’t feel uniquely different at
the moment but I guess it won't hurt for me to spend a bit of time repairing the
damage that years of late night wine imbibing has taken on my stick.
The most interesting part was afterward as I was sipping my
green tea, I found a pamphlet on the wine history of New Mexico. Now that I am
detoxed, why not add small doses of the toxin back just so my body doesn’t go
through a violent reaction? There are currently 900 acres of grapes grown all
over the state. Some I will be looking into for special terrior factors will be
the Pecos Flavors Winery offerings from the UFO-infused Roswell, NM. I
am sure the hint of burnt alien aircraft and crispy outer spacemen finish the
wine with a flavor only captured here. The other wine would be from the
Balagna Winery located in Los Alamos. Winemaker John Balagna spent 42 years
as a nuclear chemist at Los Alamos National Labs. Can you imagine what this guy
can do with a chemical compound? I bet his refractometer is nuclear powered.
In all, there are 43 wineries and tasting rooms throughout New Mexico and if I
hadn’t come here to find my inner spirit, I would be here to taste every local
grape made into the juice of the gods.
As a side note, for the second time, fate has given me an
interesting ingredient for the trip. Last year I took a book called
Absinth and found myself on the streets in Paris. This year, I grabbed
a book by the counter at Staples on an impulse. The book is called The
Alchemist and the message meshes well with the atmosphere in this
For dinner, the family strolled the streets of downtown
Santa Fe and stopped into a placed called La Boca. Santa Fe is quiet on
a Sunday night but the restaurant was packed. It is a Tapas style small place
but they had several dishes that received raves from the family. The two that
were unanimous were the lump crab and scallop cannelloni and the beef tenderloin
tips. Personally, I enjoyed the fennel pork grilled sausage in pomegranate
syrup and the basque roasted potatoes. The wine list was small and didn’t have
much that excited me. I waited to get back to the lodge and we sat outside for
a nightcap. Being in Rome, I went with the local offering. They had a pinot
noir from a winery in Albuquerque called Gruet. It was $13.00 for a
glass and I would not serve it to my worst enemy. I really get pissed at myself
for spending a God-awful amount of money on a God-awful glass of wine.
I ended the night trying to clean out my palate with a
Diavolo from Vivac Winery in Dixon, NM in the Embudo Valley. At $10.00
per glass, this wine was much more to my liking. It surprised me how big and
fruity it was with nice dark berries and a touch of mint and cocoa. I would
consider purchasing some of this for the ride home. So it is off to Taos, where
the beautiful people go and I drive through because I cannot afford to stay
August 10, 2007
In the spirit of my father’s friend who makes wine, our
northern NJ wine group headed to a local facility last night for a unique
experience. We headed to Hawthorne, New Jersey (home of the Hawthorne
Caballeros- it just doesn't read as well as hearing Bob Shepard announce them at
Giants Stadium). One of the members just finished making wine at this facility
and recommended we try it for some education and wine tasting. The event was
The Winemakers Cellar
1050 Goffle Rd.
Hawthorne, NJ 07506
Host Big Bob
introduces Winemakers Cellar guru, Mike Guarnaccia. Big Bob speaks better with
wine glass in hand.
Above, owner Mike Guarnaccia explains to the group the fate
the poor grape suffers to become the elixir of the Gods.
The all important
bottling process, right now this is the only way I can get my wine since they
would not let me camp out under the bottling machine.
While the rest of
the group was on the tour, I sampled from each barrel to ensure quality. The
third from the front on the right side, wow, that guy’s in for a surprise.
The best way to
keep Big Bob from talking about wine is to feed him. He catered in food that
was enjoyed by all.
Roast Filet of Beef Platter Smoked Salmon
Platter Grilled Chicken Platter Frittata Cole Slaw Wheatberry Salad
Macaroni Salad Snow peas with Shallot Oil Large Garden Salad Rolls &
There is another event here next week. We
are hoping it remains full, as last night we experienced 7 last minute no-shows.
As you can see the food tables were full as Big Bob pulled out all the stops.
The wine theme for the night was to bring a bottle of
homemade wine or a variety of grape you hadn’t tried before. I had a shoe in
with my parent’s neighbor, a seasoned home wine maker who crafts big reds. The
list of what we had:
Nerola 80% Xarella/20% Granacha
Cellars Winery Cabernet Franc
2001 Prado Ray
Crianza Tinto Fina/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon
There were two homemade wines
Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc/ Petite Sirah made at the Bacchus Wine School in
Toms River, NJ by my southern NJ wine connection.
For those members planning to attend, please do so.
Michael and his partners are a great group and would be happy to help in any of
your wine making needs.
August 8, 2007
The events are spinning out of control and so much happens
in the blink of an eye it is hard to decide what is worth commenting on. The
numbers 756 and 500 and 300 all hold significance in baseball but why those
numbers? I understand the 756 of Bonds being a new record, but why does the 500th
hr of A-Rod bring half a million dollars? Why not the 501 since he then
goes over a milestone. But it seems the 501st hr ball will appraise
at just $2.99. Will the 600th bring three quarters of a million for
a collector? I drank my 500th glass of wine this month and there was
no one looking to collect my glass and auction it off at Sotheby.
I am suffering debate overload. With the field so large,
the events leave seconds for us to hear their talking point. Why don’t we have
a weeding out process pre July so we can spend the summer drilling into the two
or three serious people and give them the time to explain the two sentences they
use to make a headline. It is called specifics. I want to hear details, not
letting the candidate get away with bullshit and not being called on it. More
importantly, when a candidate says the government is broken, and they have been
in Congress for twenty years, shouldn’t someone ask them why they didn’t fix
things while in the position to do so? I know I have a winology about politics,
but a Senator or Congressman having had the chance to formulate the bills and
laws to address these issues but have an empty resume should be asked why. As
President, they would do things they didn’t do in Congress. I don’t know why I
bother since no one listens but its funny to hear Hillary complain about things
that this country needs when she and her husband had eight years to do
something. After all she was the co-President as we are told now. But people
like Biden and Dodd sit twenty plus years in the Senate and then tell us how for
twenty years we didn’t do the right things. Weren’t they part of the solution
Quick, my 513th glass of wine, anyone want
As I enjoy my salmon and stew over the news, I am fueling
my ire with a brash sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. It has just the right
acidic value to churn my stomach.
2005 Sheperds Ridge Savignon Blanc Marlboro NZ$ (11.99) A solid summer wine with lime and
gooseberry flavors and a lemon drop finish.
August 3, 2007
Avis had to try harder since it was second to Hertz. Being
second best sometimes lands you on the island of misfit toys. Pleasantly, this
second-label from the California boutique winery Darioush is a find. I liken it
to Ugly Duckling Rental Cars. At first no one wanted to drive around
leaving LAX, Tinsel Town Airport with an Ugly Duckling sticker on their bumper,
but the price-to-value soon turned heads. That is exactly how I felt drinking
this one today. The second label from Darioush is simply called Caravan. It is
selling out in the local wine shops in NJ and I can understand why. It is not a
steal at $31.00 but it is impressive compared to the full-bladder pricing of
most California Cabernet Sauvignons. If ever I become piggishly rich, this
would be one of my TV wines while I light up a stogie with a Grant (fifty dollar
bill for you in Rio Linda).
2004 Caravan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (31.00) The blackberry and dark cherry greet you right up front, no hide and seek
games here. The finish is espresso stapled on to an oak tag poster board. 14%
(Yes Wino Stan I made a mistake- thank you for reading my
The free wine event is Saturday August 18th in
Parsippany. The 8th is a weds and Not the correct day. Please note,
the date in AUGUST 18th for the Free Wine event in Parsippany
August 1, 2007
I received an email yesterday inviting me to a free wine
tasting at the Parsippany Sheraton. Ok, check the name; Wino Bob.
Free wine is my middle name. So I emailed the emailer back and said I would be
happy to post up an invite to my local readers and pass it along to our wine
group. Then I received a bit more detail. There is a free wine tasting of
North Carolina wines on August 8th.
(Correction - August 18th) The sponsor is The
Vineyards at River Landing. It seems that the company is developing a
real estate project around a 10 acre vineyard that property owners will have
some stake in. Kind of like the golf community for winos. So if any of you are
up to a real estate pitch with the possibility of winning a trip for two to see
the place, the info is below. Just so I am clear, The Vineyards at River
Landing have NOT paid me to advertise this, nor have they offered me a FREE
TRIP. They have NOT offered to fly me down and see the proposed vineyard, nor
have they offered me a FREE HOME SITE to help get the word out. WinoStuff is
not an employee nor affiliated with this company. Now if the good folks at The
Vineyards at River Landing really want me to throw the weight of WinoStuff
behind this deal, I’m thinking a WinoStuff retreat house would be nice so we
could lend our expertise to the winery.
Here are some details:
Where: Sheraton Parsippany, 199
Smith Road, Parsippany
Saturday, August 18, from 10am to 5pm (Informational/wine tasting sessions
planned for 10am, 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm, approximately. Come anytime!)
Everyone who attends eligible to win a two-night, three-day stay at River
Landing, and a great opportunity to indulge in a very relaxing lifestyle and
learn even more about The Vineyards by seeing it in person.
Description: An informative Open House to learn a lot the outstanding real
estate opportunities at The Vineyards at River Landing. We will feature a
complimentary wine tasting with several wines produced in North Carolina.
at River Landing is the newest neighborhood at River Landing. It's pretty
unique because they plan to plant 10 acres of the land next May and create
their own vineyard for the exclusive enjoyment of the folks who purchase
property within The Vineyards, build a home and start enjoying a relaxing
July 31, 2007
What a treat last night, a filet mignon special dinner on a
Monday night. I could not let that hunk of meat linger on the plate without an
appropriate side dish. I am not big on the potatoes or veggies. For me the
side was a supple red wine. Filet mignon and red wine, a meal in and of itself.
Simple, flavorful and healthy- I think. I am dubbing this the Wino Adkins diet,
no carbs on the plate, just dead cow and the heart-healthy counterbalance. At
least that is what I thought until this morning. And from reading Wino John’s
You Too Can Look Twenty Years Younger from Big Ass Cab. The dentally-challenged
scientists in Great Britain just pissed in my oatmeal. More likely, they pissed
in my red wine. It seems that the daft Village Idiots in white lab coats
reported today that I have a 25% greater chance of butt cancer than my non-wine
consuming friends. Thank God I don’t have any non-wine consuming friends! So
we will all spend the waning years of our lives in flatulence heaven as our
bowels fester with cancerous growths and seeping sores. I do have some
questions for the Python troop, since two large glasses of red wine is what I
use to brush my teeth in the morning, what per cent do I go to with a bottle a
day? Is this the reason Paris smells the way it does? Will white wine keep my
asshole from falling off? If my bowel does develop cancerous polyps that leave
holes in my large intestine, will I be able to fart a symphony? Sorry folks,
this is the most upsetting news I have gotten this year. My bowels are
loosening as I type this. Oh the humanity….
1999 Robert Sinskey Vineyard
Reserve “RSV” Napa Valley$$ 45.00 (est)A subtle blend of 52% merlot, 28% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet
franc bringing soft blackberry, black cherry and a tannic undercurrent. A soft
finish and 14% alcohol makes it approachable.
(Edirot's note: WinoJohn was on vacation for the last
few days and was unable to post Bob's incoherent ramblings. I
apologize to all (both) of his loyal fans for the short delay in getting you
your daily dose of Bob.)
July 28, 2007
Hey, don’t blame me, I
have been drinking like a fish. Wino John is the technical geek so I am at his
mercy for posting. While WJ was relaxing on tropical beaches drinking girlie
drinks with paper umbrellas, I was here slaving over bottles of wine to keep our
audience happy. Last night was dinner in town at Rusillos
with our tried and true friends. Much to my palate’s delight, Wino Jim broke
out a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that was simply delicious. Had I known
he was going to spring that on us for the main course, I would have asked for a
larger glass, hold the veal. It had been too long since the last time we dined
together. The wine was a special treat since the last time we were at dinner,
the snow was 20 inches deep.
I got home with an
enjoyable Brunello glow and popped on the Tivo to see what it had found for me
over the past week. There was an episode of Uncorked, Wines Made Simple,
by the Queer Eye Guy. Let me tell you, it was insufferable. Mother of Pearl, I
don’t know what this guy was paid to do it but he should be up on grand theft
charges. There is a one-camera shot of some basic winery interviews and
tastings as Ted voice-overs a script in a monotone, dry, snailish manner.
Thinking about it, PBS hit their mark with this one. Hey, has anyone seen my
reading glasses and geritol? I understand they just hired him for a documentary
2001 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino
$$ (59.99) This one
starts out woody and tight, but relaxes to a pleasant black cherry, mocha and
licorice silky wine. A well-crafted wine to complement red sauce-based dishes.
July 26, 2007
Unfortunately, this was the scene last night at our wine
meetup dinner, a reserved table without participants who had signed up and said
they were in. Big Bob was able to secure the entire dinning room at
Rosemary and Sage for the Northern NJ Wine Meetup Group and one of his
other groups. Unfortunately, what was a commitment of 30 on Monday, soon
dwindled to 14 yesterday and 8, yes 8 of the remaining 14 did not show. There
is a large commitment on Big Bob’s part and the restaurant turned away
reservations because of the commitment of our group. Instead, there was an
entire table of people who did not cancel and did not show. This impacts our
reputation as a group and does not bode well with restaurateurs.
Fortunately, there was a table that enjoyed the 5 course
offering at Rosemary and Sage. I especially enjoyed the cold pea and tarragon
soup and my main course of the most tender and succulent short ribs over mashed
potatoes. As this was not a BYOW, I found the wine list inviting and well
priced. I shared a bottle of 2002 Qupe Central Coast Syrah that carried a price
of $24.00. I can buy it at retail for $16.00, making it a very attractive
purchase to pair with my short ribs.
The one thing I will say is that the size of the group not
withstanding, we always manage to have a great time with lively conversations
and laughter enough to send espresso out your nostrils. The happy NNJWMG
members are shown here.
This was just after the soup and right before the appetizer
sampler. For those keeping score, appetizer is a four-syllable word and came in
handy during the after party.
A small group left after dinner and raided the Wino Odd Job
compound, adding two new verses to “Teen Spirit”.
My plea goes out to the group that we keep our commitment
numbers for the upcoming event on August 9th. See you for the
July 22, 2007
What a gorgeous day the weather delivered, so what better
way to spend it than on the porch, with a glass of wine, and a cigar, and a mild
breeze? Needing company, I invited one of the guests that didn’t make it onto
the list at the C/P/B Fest. Yes, Bella showed up, but being a mixed
race, Bella was not allowed to participate in the evening’s events. (Note the
highlight of CBP Fest currently on our front page. The Wino John power
thinking/nap is priceless.) Wino Odd Job brought Bella to the fest, but Bella,
being a blend, would have altered the strict guidelines and violated rule
22.3.45 on page 119 of the Official CabFest Handbook rev B which WJ issued at
the start of the event. This little beauty from Alexander Valley was segregated
from the crowd when it was determined that it had only 40% cabernet sauvignon,
thus rendering it a bastard wine.
Last night, Bella Winery’s Hillside Cuvee spent the evening
on the porch making me realize my wine friends have a great ability to locate
unique wines, and I need to go back to my group as I am spending too much time
with inanimate objects I think are people.
2004 Bella Winery Alexander Valley Hillside Cuvee$$ (30.00) A blend of 57% syrah, 40% cabernet
sauvignon and 3% zinfandel at 14.5% alcohol gives this wine depth and backbone.
Nice mocha and sweet cherry flavors with a touch of vanilla on the finish.
July 16, 2007
I was flipping through the 150 channels last night and was
amazed to find out that our own Big Bob has a show. How could he have kept this
from us for so long? After investigating a bit more, I found out the person I
swear is Big Bob, turns out to be a foodie called Andrew Zimmern. Big Andy
makes his living going to far away places, eating the most unique edible items
in the land. Hey, judge for yourself in the latest edition of WinoStuff’s
Separated at Birth.
Famous food guy, Andrew Zimmern
enjoys a gourmet meal
Famous big guy, BigBob Ferdon
enjoys a brontosaurus steak
July 14, 2007
I got together locally at Ocha, a recent Sushi restaurant
in town, with my buddy Steve. I would call him Wino Steve. The name is
available. I don’t think he’s much of a wino yet, but I am slowly changing
that. On my way there, I picked up a South African chardonnay as he is more of
a white wine person and I could deal with chardonnay as a compliment to sushi.
Their menu is diverse enough that I haven’t had to eat the same thing twice,
though the volcano roll is a weakness and their spider roll is worth doubling up
on. Steve has some very exciting projects on the horizon, a film he executive
produced and a terrific festival coming to NY in April.
NEW FRONTIERS The Imagination Festival SPONSORED BY DISCOVER MAGAZINE
April 12, 2008
Park Central Hotel
870 Seventh Avenue at 55th Street,
New York City
Imagine how ones life could change, how our perceptions
on our actions, how our lives on Earth could change---if only we could see
everything in perspective---instead of just as far as the horizon.
"It was only five hundred years ago where mankind looked as far as they could
see, saw the Horizon, and believed the Earth was flat. It's amazing how our
imaginations become limited by what we see. What we really need to
experience, is an evolution in our perception as we stimulate the imagination"
"The human race is headed towards the Dark Ages unless Humanity Wakes up and
sees what's happening and makes significant changes." --Edgar Mitchell,
Astronaut and Sixth Man to walk on the moon
IMAGINE YOURSELF not where you are, but instead, One
Hundred Thousand Miles Away from your home, from everything you know, from every
bit of familiar surroundings.
Immerse yourself in one of the most forward thinking events dedicated to the
advancement of humanity.
Featuring leaders and visionaries from the worlds of space and humanity
I’m looking for some very big things out of this guy over
the next few months, should be fun…
2003 Zonnebloem Chardonnay
$ (10.99) Deep rich golden color with melon flavors, a buttery texture and a
vanilla layered finish made this a nice compliment to my tempera shrimp, spicy
tuna and avocado sushi roll.
July 10, 2007
I strolled through the aisles of my local wine shops and it
appears to me that all the good wine names are taken. That must by why the rash
of odd names continues to vie for shelf space. At the recent CabFest, I heard
Wino Odd Job mention he was thinking of bringing the SKN (Screw Kappa Napa).
This wine is just one in the line from Don Sabastiani and Sons. Yes, their
marketing meeting must be late night drunk-fests to add such labels to the
shelves as: Used Auto Parts, Kono Bura (horned fool), Fusee, Plungerhead, Hey
Mambo, and of course Gino da Pinot. The need to get noticed and remembered is
much different in California than Bordeaux.
I laughed out loud seeing the Arrogant Frog label, what
could be more fitting for a wine name? Maybe the French are getting a sense of
humor about their arcane system. I wonder if their need for the US market is
causing a new spirit of brotherhood and wine. I didn’t have the big bucks to buy
that $9.99 Arrogant Frog, so I went for a Cote du Rhone for $7.99. It wasn’t
bad but the name was just so catchy.
2005 Chateau Beauchene Cote du Rhone Grand Reserve $ (7.99) Besides the classy name and the raised image in the bottle, (that must
have been 1.50 of the 7.99) the wine was OK, not the worst I have tasted. The
perfect wine if you have friends that are not really wine savvy. They will be
impressed with the name and the bottle.
July 9, 2007
After a food orgy this weekend, I didn’t feel much like
cooking. The oppressive heat and lack of leftovers found me looking to local
restaurants for dinner. A new place on the Avenue opened recently so I figured
it is just as well to give it a try. The place is called EUROGRILL- traditional
Portuguese wood-burning barbeque. The menu is limited. I ordered the half
chicken, half rib dinner, and then headed a few doors down to Shop Rite Discount
Liquors. Looking for something complimentary to a wood-burning bbq, I went with
an Argentinean wine from one of the better-known producers. The grape was one
with which I have little experience so it would compliment the little experience
I have with the EUROGRILL’s fare.
I was impressed when I picked up the bag; it contained a
13-inch by 10-inch foil tray. I start thinking that I hit a winner, a wine and
large dinner for less than twenty bucks. When I got home and opened the tin, I
was bummed out to find that half the tray was rice and french fries. Why do I
need rice and french fries? Potatoes are not a veggie, this is a rip. The
flavor of the chicken and ribs was delicious and I would order one or the other
again, but I am not digging the rice and fry thing. I would have been better
with one or the other. I probably could have gotten two meals out of the
10.99-dinner if I was a rice and fry guy. Instead, I pitched the rice, had a
few fries and cooked up some veggies, which added to the meal cost.
I could do the chicken alone and if the amount I had was
only half the chicken dinner, it would be worth it. As for the wine, the
identity-confused grape is a widely planted red from Argentina. I have read
that Argentinean Bonarda has roots in Piedmont but then again so does the
California Charbono. I’m leaning Charbono; maybe I just like saying Charbono.
None-the-less, the wine value out preformed the food value. No extra rice in
2005 Bodeges Lurton Bonarda Mendoza $ (8.99) This is a solid two and could even go higher knowing the price is so
reasonable. Nice black cherry and plum flavor with a structured tannic
backbone. Not much on the finish but plenty that hits youup front. I like this
July 8, 2007
I am not a scientist but I think I read once that a genetic
mutation occurs every 15,000 years. Last night I was fortunate enough to
witness such an event. I saw a T-Rex evolve into a Spendasuarus. This mutation
took place in Bayonne of all unlikely places. My friends Wino Paul and Winette
Alice were generous enough to invite me to dinner. The usually stingy Wino
Paul’s T-Rex like arms had a burst of growth allowing him to reach his wallet
and pull out all the stops for food and wine. I was worried when he kept
talking about the time he spends watching cooking shows and how he is into
sauces. If he starts talking about cooking pots and stuff, I draw the line. He
wanted me to be impressed by his appetizer, grilled clams with bacon, red
pepper and breadcrumbs. He pulled out the 2 dozen clams and with the skills of
a blind surgeon, nearly sliced his artery shucking the clams. I said
The pride of the night was his beef tri-tip. I was not
familiar with the tri-tip, but the grilled triangle steak was flavorful and
lean. In his need to show off his culinary skills, he made a coffee, bourbon,
pepper marinade that also served as gravy. The meal would not have been
complete without his zucchini carpaccio. Yes, I typed it correctly,
zucchini carpaccio, woo hoo.
The newly lengthened appendages came in handy for the food
going directly from the grill to the serving dishes; unlike the past several
meals that detoured onto the ground. His long arms also allowed him to reach
past the bargain bin at the local wine shop and serve up a Napa sauvignon blanc
from the (nineteen) 75 wine company. This refreshingly crisp SB worked well
with the clam appetizer. The mineral and citrus notes stood up well. The beef
tri-tip was paired with a 2003 Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvignon Napa that showed
nice blackberry and bramble fruit. Since the new Spendasurus is still getting
used to the dizzying feeling of blood rushing to his hands while reaching for
his wallet, it was not the estate reserve. The finish was simple but the wines
showed a snapshot of a new lease on life. I hope that it lasts, but most of all
so does Winette Alice…..
July 7, 2007
7-7-07, bet the ranch on 23 black. Gambling was never my
thing. Against the loud and demonstrative protests of Wino John, I bastardized
his original concept of CabFest and held the fifth Cab/first Pinot fest. It
seemed that Big Bob always left Cabfest early, so as homage to the Grape Of The Year and as
an olive branch to the Big Guy, house rules tweaked the event made famous by WJ.
It must have been good because the last memory I have of it was the clock
showing 2:45 and me being in a drunken, “I love you man” discussion with Bob, no
not Big Bob, and no not Golden Eye Bob, the Other Bob. As the phrase goes, we
were the last two standing, or wobbling up the stairs. The crowd had some new
faces that made the discussion diverse and kept the night lively. Several of
the highlights were actually low lights for the others.
At one point after dinner, the cigars were blazing and I
looked over at the one chair to find Wino John slumped down like JFK in the
Zapruder video, his head was back and to the left and the melodic sounds of nose
whistling caused us to point and laugh. (It must have been the Pinot)
Having heard enough of his song, I decided to break out the
old guitar and handed it to the one with the long history of rock and roll
coursing through his ponytail. Surprisingly, Wino Rocker seemed out of tune and
struggled to find a chord in my key. Look, I understand the pitch of my key
makes the neighbor’s garage doors open, but it usually sounds good in my head.
After about ten minutes, I had enough and grabbed the guitar to play my closer,
my symphony in G-minor. It must have been so awful that it finally woke Wino
John up (I blame the Pinot)
Within an hour Wino John retired for the night, Wino Golden
Eye headed home, Big Bob and Wino Odd Job made their exit and Wino Rocker fell
asleep on the lounge chair. Which left me incoherently babbling to the Other
Bob for what seemed like an hour, well actually it was an hour of real time so
God only knows what it seemed like to TOB.
The bright side this morning is that there were no comatose
bodies, no left over smelly food and no puke to clean off any walls. I have to
say the night of what I remember was fun and the diverse crowd fostered new
friendships, but most of all for me, it was a night of learning. I learned that
I shouldn’t get drunk and babble nonsensically, I do that rather well sober. I
learned that my cooking sucked so badly last time that Big Bob brought his own
food and TOB took the grilling tools away from me right after he saw me almost
dump the veggies onto the ground. But most of all I learned that there are some
Pinot Noirs that I need to pay more attention to for educational purposes. But
I fell back into the trap of liking the bigger, bolder Pinots. WJ had a funny
line to Big Bob that his palate was calloused from the Big Ass Cabs he likes
making it hard to appreciate the nuances in the Pinots. (Maybe that’s only
funny to me)
The Pinots in no particular order:
2006 Como Sur Pinot Noir Chile
2005 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
2005 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir
2003 Nicholson Ranch Pinot Noir Cactus Hill Estate
2005 Walter Hansel Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
2005 Hitching Post Pinot Noir Cork Dancer 5.1 Santa
1990 Joseph Drouhin Gevery-Chambertin
1999 Domain Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanee
1999 Dom. L. Latour Chateau Corton Grancey
I failed to poll the crowd, and the crowd was quite happy
about that, but I did pick up a few comments that the Nicholson Ranch and the
Hitching Post were favorable to the calloused palate crowd; both showing more
muscle than finesse and more forward fruit. That took us through the appetizers
and first two courses, and then it was on to grilled meat and Big Ass Cabs. If
I had to use the very unscientific method (forgive me techno-dweebs) of
assessing the winners by which bottles had the least in them while cleaning up,
The Drouhin and the Latour were the crowd’s Pinot choices for refilling their glass and
draining the bottle.
Here’s the wind up, and the pitch:
2001 Mormoreto Castello di Nipozzano- 60% cab 25%
merlot 15% cab franc
1997 Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva
2003 Amwell Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (OK it
was a joke)
1994 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
1994 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
1997 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
It might have been the change in the crowd by the time the
cabs came out. Or the diehards that lasted until early dawn, but
unscientifically, the “What’s Left in the Bottle” meter defined the Silver Oak
Napa cab of the night. There was not that much of a distance between the Silver
Oak Napa and the Hess, the Fay and the Grgich. Remember, the crowd was weighted
to the Big Ass Cab side of the meter. Somehow showing off your best Pinot
The unfortunate off-key tones of Wino Rocker left Big Bob
slumped back in his chair and Wino Golden Eye holding a plate in front of him
trying not to toss his cookies. The expression on Wino Rocker’s face is
testament to the amount of wine he consumed that put him in his Happy Place.
Neighbors were heard shouting from their windows, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m
not going to listen anymore”.
July 6, 2007
For the Big Ass Cabernet fans, I highly recommend this book
for your summer reading schedule. Mr. Taber, by a twist of luck, found himself
the only reporter at the "tasting heard around the world". In 1976, George Taber
was in Paris as a correspondent for Time. He happened to be the only one to
show up at the now infamous California vs. France tasting set up by Steven Spurrier of Caves de la Madeleine and the Academie du Vin. Most interesting to
me was the historic information on the California vineyards and winemakers that
Mr. Taber delivers in an informative yet flowing manner.
After reading this book, I have a better understanding why
France hates America, their lassie faire attitude left them behind in technology
and the crippling restrictions of the dogmatic French classification system
allowed young upstarts from the New World to provide innovations in wine. Sorry
Big Bob, Beaune Clos des Mouches placed 5th behind 3 California
Chardonnays (that is why Big Bob is a Democrat). The most telling fact I walked
away with was that at the beginning of WWII, French soldiers had a ration of one
liter of wine per day. Think about it…… Viva la Napa!!!!!
July 5, 2007
I picked up a book to kill some time during this quite
week. The past few nights I have been slugging through the back-story to “The
Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine” by George M. Taber. It has
brought me a perspective on the 1960-1970 Napa Valley that the Gallo story did
not. Steeped in winemaking, winemakers and wine lure, I found myself needing a
sip of, well, wine. Without overdoing it, I decided something light for summer
would be appropriate for a work night. I grabbed an E. Guigal, Techno-geek of
the Rhone. I am not sure why this was in the rack, but it was a 2004 Rose from
Tavel, the Rose capital of the wine world. Light and crisp with red fruit
flavors did the trick, but it isn’t something I need to have again. No, the
book is about the Cabernet Sauvignon-crazed winemaking of Mike Grgich and Warren
Winiarski, the influences of Andre Tchelistcheff and the vision of Robert
Mondavi post his split with his brother. I found the book so far to be very
informative and a great resource on the life of those that set out to put
California wines into the world-class status. When I get time, I will scan the
cover and post it in the book section.
For me I will keep the book and drop the E.Guigal Rose,
July 4th 2007
Recently, the radio and roadside signs have clearly stated
that fireworks are illegal in New Jersey. I was never a crazy fireworks guy but
the bombs bursting in air and the rockets red glare are only fitting for this
celebration of the birth of our Nation. With the power of the Internet, I
found out that New Jersey is but 1 of 5 states that totally outlaws all
fireworks. I find the list curious as these 5 states are part of the original
13 colonies, the people that defined the holiday. Come on people, why are
people from North Dakota responsible, mature and adult enough to blow off their
fingers but the families of those who died by the lead shot of the Queens Army
I will be spending the day in quiet celebration trying to
develop a NJ approved black powder so next year at this time, I could be in the
hospital one digit down.
God Bless America.
THAT ALLOW SOME OR ALL TYPES OF CONSUMER FIREWORKS (formerly known as class C
fireworks), APPROVED BY ENFORCING AUTHORITY, OR AS SPECIFIED IN LAW (39 states
and the District of Columbia):
District of Columbia
above states enforce the federal regulations and applicable state restrictions).
STATES THAT ALLOW ONLY SPARKLERS AND/OR OTHER NOVELTIES (total of 5 states):
STATES THAT ALLOW ONLY NOVELTY FIREWORKS - (1 state):
STATES THAT BAN ALL CONSUMER FIREWORKS (including those which are allowed by
CPSC regulations) - (total of 5 states):
July 1, 2007
Last night, the Wino Rockers invited us over for a little
nosh and some social intercourse. There was a bit of pre-wedding planning the
women folk needed to discuss so Wino Rocker and I chatted a bit about work. On
our way out to pick up the pizza, I asked WR if he was suffering from BUTA, he
just seemed to offer up all the symptoms. As we talked in the car, it became
clear that he was not suffering from BUTA (Bug Up The Ass-itis) but rather he
was concerned about the tremendous loss he feels from the upcoming marriage of
his only daughter. I tried to tell him he needs to look at it in the
traditional sense of not losing a daughter but rather gaining a son. He is
expanding his family structure, one day becoming the grumpy grampy incarnate.
It took time for him to admit it, but finally on the way
home with the food, he told me this loss would be big to him.
Unfortunately he was speaking of the loss his wallet would suffer and had
nothing to do with the family situation at all. Yes, Wino Rocker is spending
his last few weeks with the Franklin family, actually the multiple clones of Ben
himself that Wino Rocker sleeps upon will be heading to a new home soon. I will
do all in my power to run the bar bill up and have been asked to be the special
man for the ceremony. No, not the best man, the special man. His daughter
asked if I would take her home movie camera and follow the old man into the
office to record the momentous occasion of Wino Rocker handing over the check at
the end of the night to the catering manager. I also will be required to carry
a first aid kit with smelling salts and nitroglycerin in case his heart stops or
he loses consciousness. I am hoping to post that video on youtube.
“Los Dos”, Grenache-Syrah, Campo de Borja, “Old Vines”$ (7.99) This is a fresh, unoaked blend of grenache and syrah that goes well with
pizza. Too mellow for a steak but fine for a Thursday in front of the TV.